In the first meeting of the assigned committee, it was decided that two draft laws of the parliament and the government become the basis for the legal framework of the Kurdistan Region's Higher Negotiation Board with Baghdad.
A meeting was held on Monday August 6th 2012 in Erbil to discuss the issue of the establishment of the board. The meeting was attended by the Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani, Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, Parliament Speaker Arsalan Bayiz, Kurdish MPs in Baghdad, as well as representatives of all the political parties in Kurdistan.
The meeting, which was organized upon the request of PM Barzani, decided that a joint committee shall be established to work on the establishment of the Negotiation Board.
Based on this decision, the assigned committee held its first meeting on Sunday August 11th 2012 in Erbil. Dr. Rozh Nuri Shawaish, Kurdish Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq, announced to the media that it had been decided that the government shall submit its project for the board as soon as possible.
Shawais also announced that the board will be based in Baghdad away from internal political and media conflicts.
Omar Nuraddini, deputy head of the Kurdistani Bloc, said that all parties were in agreement that such a board was a necessity.
"They also agreed that the board must be organized by law," said MP Nuraddini. "Because this is the project of the government originally, it should prepare its draft law for the committee and submit it to the parliament."
MP Nuraddini admitted that there have been some disagreements in opinions, as some people think it should be an independent commission, and some others argue that is should be affiliated to the parliament. Some others, however, said that the committee should be part of the government and directly monitored by parliament.
On the other hand, Sardar Abdulla, deputy head of the opposition Gorran Bloc, said that some parties also argued that there should also be a higher political delegation, while some others think that legislation for such a committee is illegal, believing that since Kurdistan has its own President, Prime Minister and Parliament Speaker, there is no need for such a delegation or committee.
"But after all, all parties were in agreement that the existence of a negotiation board is a necessity," Abdulla stated. "We think that this board should be independent and directly affiliated to the parliament, be elected and dissolved by the parliament, and its budget should be provided by the parliament as well."
However, Saad Khalid, coordinator between the government and the parliament, told the Kurdish Globe that government does not want the negotiations with Baghdad to fall solely on its part, and the government's suggestion is to establish a national board consisting of all parties and component of the Kurdistan Region.
Regarding the first meeting of the committee, Khalid said that there was a considerable common understanding. He also explained that there were two projects, and the government will submit its draft law in the coming days.
"The drafts of the parliament and the government will become the basis for the legal framework of the Kurdistan Region's higher Negotiation Board with Baghdad," Khalid told the Globe.
Gorran Movement has also prepared a draft law for the board, which has already been submitted to the parliament for consideration. The draft consists of 18 articles, but it has not yet been discussed with parliament.
There are also some disagreements about whether the board should be a legal entity or a political committee. Although, the discussions about the board are still in its infancy and mainly regarding general issues, some ideas have been put forward about its composition, responsibilities and activities.
The two ruling parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), argue that it should be a political committee comprised of the President, Prime Minister, Parliament Speaker, and a primary representative from all the parliament blocs, but the opposition parties have a different idea.
Aso Karim, Member of Parliament from the majority Kurdistani Bloc, says that this is one of a number of ideas put forward about the nature of the board and that they should wait till the government submits its draft law, because the idea was first put forward by the government.
Kardo Mohammed, Member of Parliament from the opposition Gorran Bloc, told the Globe that the representatives should be admitted into the board according to a law, or only those parties should be represented that have MPs in the Iraqi Parliament, i.e. KDP, PUK, Gorran, Kurdistan Islamic Community (KIC) and Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU), and selection should be based on qualification.
According to the parliament procedures, any draft law submitted to the parliament should have some requirements such as objectives, who will be in the board, duties, authorities, should it be established by law or by a decree, to where it should be affiliated, works with which mechanism, have representatives of all parties or only parties who have representatives in the parliament.
Karim believes that the board should be established within a legal framework whether by a law or a decree from parliament. However, he argues that till the government submits its proposal, these ideas should not be discussed.
Mohammed argues that neither Gorran's draft nor any other draft has been discussed in parliament, but all parties have a common understanding that they should first agree on a draft, which should be refined through discussions within parliament.
The idea of establishing such a board is not common in the world, and in Palestine there is such a board. Recently there have been several tensions and problems between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Iraqi Central Government, as well as between the ruling and opposition parties regarding the claim that the issues between Erbil and Baghdad have been personalized.
The most recent criticism towards President Massoud Barzani by the Gorran Movement was that his decision about withdrawing support from Nuri Maliki, the Iraqi Prime Minister, was a unilateral one.
Mohammed argues that the establishment of such a board would bring about unity in both interpreting and solving the issues with Baghdad, and that the negotiations with Baghdad will be documented and mutual agreement should be made about them.
According to Karim, the benefit is that the ideas will be formed based on united front in solving the problems, and it will be clear that the issues are not only related to the opposition or the ruling parties alone, but rather to all parties.
"Moreover the aim of the committee is that one party should not assume all responsibilities and no party should accuse another or hold it responsible for the results of negotiations," said Karim.